How does cannabis dust affect air quality?

Jan 30, 2023

Air Quality

As the cannabis industry evolves, many regions are now tightening up their work-safe practices. Those companies who are not protecting the safety of their employees are inviting injury, fines, and staff distrust. A common concern in industrial cannabis is the quality of air in post-harvest processing. Particularly processing dried cannabis. The keif or resin dust that gets in the air can quickly cause respiratory issues in the same room. Most HVAC systems are not equipped with HEPA filtration or standard filtration sufficient to remove airborne particulate. 

There are numerous reports of asthma attacks and respiratory illness from cannabis dust – particularly from cannabis grinders and low-quality milling machines. Cannabis is often ground or milled for pre-rolls or extraction. 

In large scale commercial cannabis processing, it is important to seek cannabis trimming systems that have HEPA filtration if they require a blower or vacuum system. Many cannabis trimming systems move 800cfm – 5000cfm of air which can be heavily contaminated with cannabis dust. This dust is an allergen and a respiratory danger to many people. 

Many trimming machines will have a cloth or mesh filter bag. Those that are more advanced will use a cyclone system with a series of mesh filter bags. The best systems will use a cyclone system, a mesh filter bag, pleated filtered and HEPA filtration to ensure those working in the post-harvest trimming area have hospital quality filtered air.  

OSHA has specific standards for air quality related to airborne dust and particulate matter. The general industry standard is 29 CFR 1910.1000, Air Contaminants, which sets limits for exposure to various substances, including dusts, fumes, mists, and fibers. The standard for construction is 29 CFR 1926.55, Air Contaminants, which is similar to the standard for general industry. 

Furthermore, as cannabis dust does have a small explosivity risk, ensure your equipment provider is able to provide adequate testing data to ensure their equipment does not create a hazard.  

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